Auto Tune: “The Heart of Saturday Night” by Tom Waits

May 6th, 2015 at 3:00pm

Driving, riding, roads and of course cars themselves have all been immortalized by writers, composers and musicians around the world. Auto Tune is our way to spotlight a unique transportation song to celebrate these “ridden” gems along with the artists or composers who crafted them. Some you may know, many we’re sure you don’t.

TomWaits_TheHeartofSaturdayNightIn the early ‘70s, pianist Tom Waits was a Sunset Boulevard vagabond. He crafted songs that featured a world of Jack Kerouac characters, probably because he interacted with them on a daily basis.

Hanging out a LA’s famous Troubadour club paid off when he was signed by Asylum Records, which released his first album called Closing Time in 1973. It was followed quickly by his sophomore effort the next year, “The Heart Of Saturday Night,” which was an unmistakable homage to the great Sinatra concept album “In The Wee Small Hours Of The Morning” in both cover art and content.

And though there are several cuts on the album that could’ve been this week’s Auto Tune, our choice today is the title cut. Here, the song’s protagonist has got his weekly pay, gasses up his Oldsmobile, picks up his girl and goes “barrelin’ down the boulevard… cruisin’ with a 6… looking for the heart of Saturday night.” The song is a melancholy bit of nostalgia that causes many of us, as Waits so aptly observes to be, “dreamin’ of them Saturdays that came before.” Of course memories and age play a big part of that, but so do songs that capture the essence of the car culture and what it means to us, especially when we’re young.

This song was recorded in 1974, but listening to it today it seems just as fresh as it must’ve been then. Check it out and maybe like Tom says, “this’ll be the Saturday you’re reachin’ your peak.”

- Chip Drake, Executive Producer, Autoline

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